After reading The Vignelli Canon, Tim Owen’s “We Are All Artists” statement and links, and listening to the Groom/Owens interview + talk, I felt well-armed to tackle Design Week.
Tim Owens’ statement “The Mozarts are over here and the factory workers are over here” really resonated with me. I’ve never considered myself an artist, but I’ve always appreciated art and enjoyed making things or taking things and adding to them to make them function differently. That’s what particularly appeals to me about computer science, where I enjoy taking someone else’s code and modifying it to do other things. I’m getting into the Maker Movement and teaching myself electronics and soldering so I can fiddle with little things (and apparently help keep adafruit.com in business). Don’t accept someone else’s pigeonhole labels regarding creativity and art; go out and make something.
Another thing that resonated with me was Tim’s passion for coffee, and his non-snobbish attitude towards generic brands. He talks about the design of a coffee box that makes it possible to get a SINGLE filter out of the box. I really have to make a point to meet Tim Owens one of these days. For coffee. Especially since right where he says the name of the filters, the recording cuts out and I’m left hanging, never knowing what wondrous brand of filters has solved the SINGLE filter problem. AAAAAIIIIGH!
So, one of the things that puts a smile on my face is when I’m making something and a tool does EXACTLY what it’s supposed to do for me and as a result, the thing I’m making ends up doing EXACTLY what it’s supposed to do. I get this warm, fuzzy feeling and my brain realizes “Hey, I can do this”. I totally love that feeling. I suspect it’s something like the Owens Coffee Filter Experience.
I started off the Photoblitz looking for things that work well in terms of design. This inevitably led to finding things that failed in terms of design. So, here’s the Werken und Stuffen for your enjoyment:
SCALE/PROPORTION – A Success
An old book in my nerd collection depicts the use of many smaller Star Trek-themed images that combine artfully to create a single larger Star Trek image of a well-known character. This is a terrific example of how something examined close up can mean one thing, and when examined from farther away, can mean or become something totally different. I especially like how darker and redder images were used to form Lt. Whorf’s facial features and uniform. This is the cover of an excellent book on creating science fiction props from everyday items, by adding/removing parts and combining them to become something totally new and different.
FORM/FUNCTION – A Success
This is my Swiss Army knife, which I had custom made from Wenger to include the exact tools I wanted, and a button to lock the main blade when it’s open so that it can’t accidentally close and cut my fingers while I’m using it. I bought an additional tiny screw driver that screws into the corkscrew tool so that it can be carried around. Ingenious design that works, and I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve used that little screwdriver to tighten eye glasses, open small electronic components, etc.
UNITY – A Failure
These are the brick pavers for the walkway going down the side of Trinkle Hall at UMW. It’s a nice idea to have a paved walkway, and the symmetry and repeating patterns is appealing to the OCD part of my brain. However, the bricklayer didn’t contain the bricks inside any kind of border, instead depending only on the mortar to hold everything together. Weather and foot traffic have taken their toll and the entire thing is unraveling from the edge, defeating the purpose of the function, and also the aesthetic of the original design.
TYPOGRAPHY – A Failure
This is an image I ran across awhile back, of an example of typography failure resulting in an amusing take on a store’s name. Maybe it’s a deliberate marketing tactic, because it has certainly stuck in my brain. A bad typography choice can bring an entirely new meaning to something as mundane as a store’s sign.